No. 12.

Acting Consul Fullarton to Earl Russell.—(Received February 1, 1864.)

My Lord: I have the honor to enclose to your lordship a copy of my reply to Mr. Benjamin’s despatch to me of the 8th instant, conveying the president’s order to depart promptly from the confederacy, and in the mean time to cease the exercise of consular functions.

Mr. Benjamin has thought proper to publish his despatch to me in the Richmond newspapers.

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Having had committed to my charge the interests of several parties absent in Europe, which my departure would seriously injure, I have requested Mr. Benjamin to rescind that portion of the order requiring me actually to withdraw from the confederacy.

I have, &c.,

[Enclosure in No. 12.]

Acting Consul Fullarton to Mr. Benjamin.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt, on the 14th instant, of your despatch to me of the 8th, communicating to me the president’s order that I should promptly depart from the confederacy, and in the mean time cease to exercise any consular functions within its limits.

Your despatch conveys to me the reasons which have induced this action. These reasons have no existence in fact, and I should content myself with a simple denial of the charges you make, were it not that you found them upon language used by me which I should have supposed could not fairly be misconstrued; but as it has been so strangely misinterpreted, and such serious and I may say unheard of charges have been preferred by you against her Majesty’s government, and against all her Majesty’s consuls in the confederacy, it seems to be due to them at least that I should endeavor to disabuse your mind.

In the first place, I will observe that your accusations are made against her Majesty’s consular servants in the plural number. Mr. Cridland, of Mobile, has not exercised any of the functions of his office; therefore, Mr. Walker, her Majesty’s acting consul in Charleston, and myself, are the only officers to whom your charges can refer. Mr. Walker will doubtless deal with the matter in his own way, and I propose to defend myself only.

That you may be under no mistake as to what my instructions in reference to the service of British subjects in the armies of the confederacy or any of the confederate States really are, I will here repeat them, viz: “That the plainest notions of reason and justice forbid that a foreigner, admitted to reside for peaceful and commercial purposes in a State forming a part of a federal Union, should be suddenly and without warning compelled by the State to take an active part in hostilities against other States which, when he became domiciled, were members of one and the same confederacy.”

Therefore, both in contemplation of the organization of the militia of the State of Georgia, and in anticipation of a State draft from that organization for purposes inconsistent with that instruction, it was my duty to advise such of her Majesty’s subjects as might be enrolled for militia service and subjected to such draft, in the language you have first quoted; and unless you possess the information that all her Majesty’s subjects in the State of Georgia have enlisted in confederate service, I am at a loss to understand how you can regard this as an assumption on my part of “the power of determining whether enlisted soldiers of the confederacy are properly bound to its service.”

The second quotation of my language is as easily explained. Militia service is peculiarly an organization for neighborhood defence, and if a British subject, being a militia-man, is called from his neighborhood, which is properly defined by the word home, or involuntarily drafted into service for which he is not liable, I have done no wrong in directing him to refuse the required service by rejecting the arms that may be thrust upon him; and it is this advice to British subjects, not enlisted, but willing to perform all that the laws of the State can justly require of them, that you have been pleased to magnify into advice “to soldiers of the confederate armies to throw down their arms in the face of the [Page 864] enemy.” It seems to me impossible to read the language you have quoted without perceiving that it has no application at all to the enlisted confederate soldier, unless, as I said before, you assume that all British subjects have enlisted in the confederate service, and I should imagine it is not necessary for me to tell you that the fact of enlistment deprives the soldier of all protection, as of right, from the consequences of his enlistment.

Having thus shown how extravagant is the construction you have placed upon my language, I have only to deny the correctness of every conclusion you have drawn and every assertion you have made. I have not failed to forward to her Majesty’s government a copy of your despatch, and I shall inform them of the publication and circulation you have thought proper to give to it.

I am, &c.,